Today’s Streaming Guide focuses on one of the highest quality police procedural thrillers to emerge in recent years and it’s available for viewing on Netflix:
Director David Ayer has most recently been known for working with Will Smith on Suicide Squad and Netflix’s Bright. Prior to that, he specialized in Los Angeles set crime pics. He co-wrote 2001’s Training Day, in which Denzel Washington won the Best Actor Oscar before directing Christian Bale in Harsh Times and Keanu Reeves in Street Kings.
From the behind the camera, his best of the bunch in my view is 2012’s End of Watch. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, and Anna Kendrick, this is a gritty genre affair made with style and first-rate performances. It performed decently upon initial release. If you haven’t seen it, End is definitely worth the watch.
Blogger’s Update (01/16): Better than expected reviews are pushing my estimate from $38.6 million to $45.6 million
A quarter century after the original made Will Smith an action hero, he teams again with Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys for Life next weekend. This is the duo’s third collaboration playing cops battling European baddies and Michael Bay (who made the first two) is away from the director’s chair with Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah taking over. Franchise players Joe Pantoliano and Theresa Randle are back and newcomers include Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, and Paola Nunez.
The MLK holiday frame caps off a busy few months for the Artist Formerly Known as Fresh Prince. Last summer, he had a huge hit with Aladdin. In the fall, he experienced a flop with Gemini Man and voiced the lead character in the decently performing family pic Spies in Disguise.
Back in the spring of 1995, the original Boys took in $15 million for its start with an eventual $65 million gross. Eight years later, Bad Boys II tripled that debut with $46 million with an overall tally of $138 million.
Seventeen years is a long break between entries and 2019 showed us that franchise fatigue was real in many cases. One example was Men in Black: International, which Mr. Smith steered clear from.
Mu guess is that part 3 won’t match its predecessor’s earnings and that’s even with the extra Monday due to the holiday. A decent comp could be Ride Along 2, which made $41 million over MLK four years back. That was under the $48 million that the first Ride hauled in. I’ll say Smith and Lawrence’s reported last ride hovers around the $40 million mark.
Bad Boys for Life opening weekend prediction: $45.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
Opening on Christmas Day, Will Smith and Tom Holland lend their vocal stylings to the animated comedy Spies in Disguise. The pic comes from Blue Sky Studios, who have successfully distributed the Ice Age and Rio franchises. Nick Bruno and Troy Quane make their directorial debuts and supporting mic work comes from Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan, Karen Gillan, and DJ KHALED!!! (I think I’m contractually obliged to type his name in caps with exclamation points).
Blue Sky’s previous effort was two years ago and it also opened over the holiday season. Ferdinand dared to debut directly against Star Wars: The Last Jedi and managed a $13.4 million opening (lower than the studio is accustomed to). In 2019, competition for Spies is equally fierce. The Rise of Skywalker will be in its second weekend while Jumanji: The Next Level should still be raking in cash in its third frame.
The star power should help a bit and so should the fact that there’s plenty of money to be spent by family audiences over its five-day release. I’ll say a gross in the low to mid teens for Friday to Sunday and that should be matched by a roughly equal amount on Wednesday and Thursday.
Spies in Disguise opening weekend prediction: $13.6 million (Friday to Sunday); $27.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
In December of last year, the non Disney/Pixar animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swooped in at the last minute to critical acclaim and took away Best Animated Feature from frontrunner Incredibles 2.
So it’s at least worth keeping an eye on Spies in Disguise, the comedic kiddie flick from Blue Sky Studios. Could another last minute entry pop up and steal the thunder from another Pixar sequel, Toy Story 4?
Short answer: nope. While the Will Smith and Tom Holland voice led pic has garnered some decent reviews (79% on Rotten Tomatoes), I don’t even feel it’s enough to compete with other likely nominees including Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and Missing Link. For that matter, I’d rank it behind potential contenders that I’m not projecting for the final five like Abominable and Klaus.
This marks Blue Sky’s 13th full-length feature. Only two (2002’s Ice Age and 2017’s Ferdinand) have gotten the attention of Academy voters. Don’t expect this to be the third. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Arriving just behind his biggest domestic and worldwide grosser Aladdin and just ahead of his long in development sequel BadBoysforLife, Will Smith headlines the sci fi action thriller GeminiMan next weekend. Itself a project that’s been in the planning for over two decades, double Oscar winner Ang Lee directs this tale of Smith’s aging hitman battling a youthful version of himself. Costars include Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.
Most of the pic’s publicity has centered around its visual effects and de-aging process with the younger Fresh Prince. Yet the Rotten Tomatoes score is anything but fresh at a troubling 22%. That won’t help with word of mouth for Gemini and I believe that could rule out a start north of $30 million (where some projections are).
Despite his recent exposure in Disney’s billion dollar blockbuster and plenty of success for Smith in this genre, I’ll predict this gets off to a middling debut in the low to mid 20s range.
GeminiMan opening weekend prediction: $22.8 million
Sporting a lowly 29% Rotten Tomatoes ranking prior to its October 11 release, Ang Lee’s GeminiMan is certainly no candidate for Best Picture recognition like the director’s previous works CrouchingTiger, HiddenDragon, BrokebackMountain, and LifeofPi. The sci fi action thriller casts Will Smith in an effects heavy experience where the actor plays an aging hitman who must battle a younger version of himself.
While it’s no surprise that the pic won’t contend for top line prizes, Gemini has always been eyed as a possibility for Visual Effects. The 3D high frame per second look is one employed by Lee in his last film BillyLynn’sLongHalftimeWalk. That drama was seen as awards bait before poor reviews sunk its viability.
Visual Effects nowadays is a race where there’s usually no shortage of contenders. In 2019, we have the upcoming StarWars: TheRiseofSkywalker in addition to TheIrishman, TheLionKing, Avengers: Endgame, and Smith’s own summer blockbuster Aladdin. I believe Gemini could still sneak in the category, but its own negative critical reaction might derail it. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
You won’t need one of those neuralyzer doohickeys to forget MeninBlack: International, which extends the rust developed from part two of the franchise on. Will Smith has moved on from this series to dealing with aliens in Netflix pics and being the man in blue in Disney remakes. Tommy Lee Jones has retired as well. So the Marvel Cinematic duo of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson from Thor: Ragnarok don the sunglasses in this reboot. Their chemistry was better with the MCU team and that movie had a funnier alien in the guise of Jeff Goldblum.
Hemsworth is the hunky Agent H, top operative at the U.K. MiB branch run by Liam Neeson’s High T. Thompson is essentially a fangirl of the super secretive force who’s been aware of their existence since childhood. She recruits herself to the suit and is assigned by Emma Thompson’s Agent O (reprising her MeninBlack3 part) to travel overseas and partner with her Thor. The plot involves stopping a nasty species that goes by the Hive. One of the baddies is an arms dealer played by Rebecca Ferguson that had an inter species love affair with H. Some of the other villains are kept secret for most of the running time, though you’ll see it coming from a galactic mile away. And there’s Kumail Nanjiani voicing the CG creation Pawny. He gets in a few mildly amusing lines.
F. Gary Gray has taken over directorial duties from Barry Sonnenfeld and he doesn’t have to top a high bar of its predecessors. 1997’s original was a fun summer blockbuster melding science fiction and comedy with genuine chemistry from the two leads. I struggle to recall anything about the first sequel. #3 was a slight improvement if only for Josh Brolin’s uncanny impression of a young Tommy Lee Jones.
I doubt many have much of an affinity for this franchise beyond what came 22 years ago. And while International does indeed trot the globe from Paris to London and Morocco and New York to Italy, it mostly feels flat.